This week Tricks of the Trade was at the Business Travel Show that was held on the 22nd and 23rd of February in Olympia, London.
Among some of the interesting exhibits we encountered was the United Airlines stand which featured a 2 seat mock-up of their Polaris new business class cabin.
I was able to have a brief try of the seat and was particularly interested in how the legroom compared to other airlines when the seat was in lie flat bed mode. This is because when the seat is fully flat, business class passengers will have their feet under the seat in front. I was concerned that this would would be of some significance to taller passengers.
The cabin offers direct aisle access from each seat which is not the case with British Airways all business class cabins on the market. Unfortunately, due to limited floor space, United were not able to create an exact to-scale replica of the cabin. This meant I wasn’t able to gauge just how easy it is to access the aisle.
The image below suggests a fairly slim gap when accessing the aisle from those ‘inner middle seats’.
The seat itself felt comfortable and uses bedding that has been custom designed by Saks Fifth Avenue. However, the legroom when the seat was fully flat was in fact a slight concern. The seat has an advertised 6’6″ of space yet at exactly 6ft I found my feet reached the end of the available space.
You are able to scoot up the seat to create some more room and I was assured that someone who was 6’5″ had tried the seat the day before with no space issues. I feel that I would need to try the seat over a longer period in order to properly evaluate this though.
There are Universal AC power and USB outlets at every seat. The cubby pictured below also contains the amenity kit which features products from Soho House & Co.’s Cowshed Spa.
There were some other nifty gimmicks in the seat design, including a ledge to house tablets that is built in to the tray table. This prevents those frustrating battles to find a good way to stop your device constantly slipping down while you are eating your meal and attempting to continue your movie on your tablet at the same time!
My personal highlight was the blue gel-cooled memory foam pillow that is pictured below. I have yet to come across a pillow on a plane that I felt really comfortable sleeping on for more than a few hours.
Although I only was able to try it briefly this felt really comfortable and I hope to have a chance to utilize it properly on a flight in the future.
United have put some serious effort into rolling out a new sleep-focused business class product. As well as the new seats and bedding, entirely new business class lounges are set to open, including at Heathrow, later in the year. They have also overhauled the in-flight dining options.
As of April, United will offer a total of 6 daily flights to New York from Heathrow that will all feature the new Polaris soft-product (dining, bedding etc). There is no word yet on when they will fly aircraft featuring the new Polaris seats from Heathrow, but when this does commence, United’s Polaris looks like providing some stiff competition and a thought-provoking alternative to BA’s Club World offering.